TUESDAY 8 MAR 2022 3:21 PM


Research from visual e-commerce platform, iStock, reveals that two out of every three women in the UK still experience bias. This International Women's Day, Dr Rebecca Swift, global head of creative insights at iStock looks at how businesses can be more inclusive in their communications and help combat gender bias.

iStock’s creative insights platform, Visual GPS, conducted the research into the impact of gender bias on women. The findings revealed that 62% of women in the UK still experience bias, with prejudice around body shape and size being the most prevalent.

Visual GPS found that brands have been actively looking to increase the diversity of body shapes and sizes being represented in their communications campaigns. Globally there has been a 7% drop in people experiencing any form of body bias in 2021 when compared to 2020 figures.

Dr Rebecca Swift, global head of creative insights at iStock, says, “Our Visual GPS research demonstrates that the images and videos businesses choose in their visual storytelling matters because it directly affects the way female consumers perceive and engage with your business.”

Swift urges brands to represent larger body types in an authentic way. Visual GPS found that less than 1% of visuals include women with larger body types, but communications will be more effective when they include images of people with a range of body types.

Brands should also be body positive in their communications campaigns. There has been a 16% increase in the quantity of content that is tagged as “body positive” in the last five years alone. While visual comms is a small piece of the puzzle, better representation will drive change and encourage people to think more positively about a brand.

Diversity is not just about including women of different body shapes. The way women are portrayed in visual communications can often perpetuate stereotypes. The research suggests that body bias has the greatest intersection with other biases, with a particularly strong bias link between body image and socio-economic status. Swift encourages businesses to consider featuring visuals that include women of all ages and ethnicities as well as body types in order to connect with female consumers in a transparent and honest way.

"While we have seen a move in the right direction when it comes to gender representation, despite best efforts there is still work to be done to break the bias in visual storytelling," adds Swift.